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05 October 2012

NY State Sen. Breaks Silence About Why He Walked Off Stage at Muslim Day Parade: ‘Attack on Our Country’

Tony-Avella-300x171.jpgIt has taken four days to get a comment from NY State Senator Tony Avella’s office, but the hard-to-reach elected official has finally responded to TheBlaze regarding why he left the stage during NYC’s Muslim Day Parade

Just minutes before 3pm ET, Mr. Avella sent an email to TheBlaze answering most of of our questions. He started by combining the first two questions:

  • How many of the previous Muslim Day Parades have you attended? (This was the 27th annual parade.)
  • Have you been a “VIP” or “Honorary Marshall” for this parade in any previous years?

Avella’s reply:

Although I have had contact with Muslim groups throughout New York City as a former member of the New York City Council, prior to being elected to the State Senate in 2010, this was the first Muslim Day Parade that I had been invited to attend.

TheBlaze followed with:

  • What is your official reaction to the speech that inspired you to get up and leave the stage?

To which, the Senator replied:

I was deeply offended by the various remarks that were made during the on stage presentation and felt they were an attack on our country as well as the State of Israel and were anti-Semitic in nature and as a result I left the stage in protest. In addition, I immediately wrote the Parade Committee the next day on Monday indicating my outrage. (Avella’s letter to the parade organizers is attached below)


And the final two questions we posed were also answered by one statement.

  • There was also a speaker there, an imam from Brooklyn, who demanded a UN law that would criminalize “defaming” Islam or the prophet Muhammed. Where do you stand on this proposal or any proposal that seems to conflict with our First Amendment?
  • If you support the imam’s idea on the speech limitations, what do you think about the painting known as “Piss Christ” – an “art” exhibit recently mounted at a local gallery?
Mr. Avella’s answer:
I was shocked to hear the Imam’s negative comments about freedom of speech and individual rights.

It should be noted that Avella did not leave during the imam’s comments, only after the woman got up and decried “Zionist Nazis.” To be fair, however, her speech could have been the final straw.

But while you may be applauding Senator Avella’s reaction to the the hate speech, you might be wondering why he was the only one to protest. You may recall that in addition to State Senator Avella, there were others on stage. In fact, we recognized one of those people as another elected official: NYC Council Member Robert Jackson (District 7), who was the official Grand Marshall of the parade.

Here he is o the stage:councilman.jpg

Activist Pamela Hall (who recently tried to block Mona Eltahawy from defacing an anti-jihad subway sign) captured some clearer pictures of Jackson marching in the parade wearing the orange sash seen above.

All this to point out that the council member remained on the stage as the offensive and often anti-Semitic remarks were made to the crowd. TheBlaze has also been in contact with Mr. Jackson’s communications director in hopes of getting some answers on his apparent endorsement of what was said on the stage.

We have asked for the following questions to be answered:

  • State Senator Avella got up and left the stage in the middle of one speech. Given the anti-Semitic nature of the statements from several speakers at the Muslim Day Parade this past Sunday, why did you stay?
  • Are your constituents and the voters of New York City to assume that you endorse this kind of attack on Jews and non-Muslims?
  • Do you support the call for a global ban on speech that defames Islam or the prophet Muhammed?
  • If you do, wouldn’t a law like that be in direct conflict with the American Constitution, specifically the First Amendment?
If and when the Council Member responds, we will post his answers.

Meanwhile, State Senator Avella sent TheBlaze a copy of his letter to the parade organizers. We are posting it here.



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